my surroundings are chill, and my mind is lit [single reviews]
Safari Room – “Young Water”: In our Nashville Artists to Watch feature earlier this year, I compared Safari Room to Local Natives. This earworm of a tune definitely continues this vibe, with a bit of an emotive twist. The feeling I get while listening is similar to stepping into the sunshine of my yard for the first time after a period of gloomy weather. The effect of the song packs a punch, but the delivery is gentle and measured. I’d love to experience this live soon.
Night Darling – “Stay Away”: This LA band to watch was chosen purely on a whim after surfing some Instagram posts and being inspired by their aesthetic and a performance clip. “Stay Away” is one of two outputs by the band, which is a delicate, sensual journey into the darkness. This isn’t your typical darkpop band. Everything is deliberate. Fans of Glass Animals, St. Vincent, and Lorde will enjoy this. I can hear elements of each of those artists in this one song. I hope this act tours when they are allowed to.
Mountains Like Wax – “Braindead”: The vocals of Mountains Like Wax’s Mitchell Taylor have always had an aching, pained quality to them that counterintuitively fits the cinematic, sweeping nature of their songwriting. “Braindead” is par for the course of what to expect from the band, yet it has a sparse, stark tone to it that is fitting for the season we’re in, aching vocals included. This band has experienced great personal loss in the tornados that ravaged Nashville the week before the reality of the pandemic set in, and it certainly feels that this song was released at the appointed time—unbeknownst to them at the time of songwriting and release scheduling.
Carver Commodore – “Can’t Stay Away”: This Alabama indie rock group is developing a mastery of the sunny indie vibe. They have a sound that’s very familiar, yet they are not your cookie cutter pop-rock group. The accompanying music video will make you laugh and make you rethink what endearing means. The camera-work is on point, and I’m curious how many takes it took to get the first-person POV completely nailed down. This is a song that will stick in my head all summer, even though we’re still (kinda) locked down.
Charlotte Sands – “Blame It On My Ex”: A few weeks ago Nashville Unsigned founder Amber Stoneman told me she believes Charlotte Sands could be the next to break out in the pop scene there, and after hearing this song I’m inclined to agree. I don’t listen to a ton of radio pop, but this would add some needed freshness to the airwaves. Listening to this makes me think of the NOW That’s What I Call Music compilations I used to collect as a kid—in the best way! I often praise songs on here that mix nostalgia with innovation, and this feels like one of those pop tracks. It’s a lot more upbeat than you’d expect and cheeky too.
Kandle – “Little Bad Things”: What would you get if you mixed the easygoing nature of Jewel with the angst of The Cranberries? You might result with something along the lines of Kandle’s “Little Bad Things,” a sun-drenched alt-pop ballad with just a nice bit of twang. The contrast of the southern rock inspired guitar-work and the strings is quite effective. Kandle is a seasoned performer that you don’t know—yet. Her vocals also remind me a bit of Stacy King from Eisley and Sucre. Soft but with a hint of a ‘tude.
Cate Von Csoke – “Dream Around”: If the previous song is sun-drenched, this is what would happen if you took its environment and plopped it in the desert for awhile. The beauty is no less apparent than a traditional pop song, but the reverb is so strong that the line between reality and dreaming begins to blur. The effect is that I zone out almost to the point of missing the melody. I find myself zoning out—then coming back. Out. Back. Out. Back. It’s an oddly compelling way to experience a song. This is the lead single from Csoke’s EP Almoon, due out June 5th.
Find all of the above and more on our “New and Nifty” playlist.